As I headed to the Honda Center to take in a show for a review – as I have done many times – I was not 100% sure what to expect. The ‘80s-themed concert had some iconic names performing, plus Honda Center is celebrating their 30 year anniversary with this concert season.
The night had a lot going for it, so the stage was perfectly set for Lost ‘80s Live in the OC!
When I rolled up, I noticed a very diverse crowd; from age to nationality, the outfits were outrageous – even for an ‘80s party. Every form of Madonna, DEVO, and Dale Bozzio-esque Valley Girls were representin.’
Given this show was at Honda Center with its incredible sound system, I had a suspicion the bands would sound like a movie soundtrack!
The show was hosted by everyone’s favorite ‘80s DJ, Richard Blade. In addition to keeping the between set entertainment going, the music he and his partner picked out made the show seem seamless – no downtime whatsoever.
The brainchild of Rob Juarez, the show’s lineup had the who’s who of the ‘80s. Juarez even hit the stage a few times with Blade to talk about the event and future shows (of which there are several!). The response was so great, to be honest it was somewhat of an emotional moment for the crowd… responding to the cheers – Juarez covered his face almost as if in disbelief how much these shows mean to the legion of fans that attend nationwide.
When I got home after the show, I wanted to title this review as “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” That’s how jazzed I was about the concert I had just experienced! Unfortunately, that title is kind of taken already – something about a 1965 feature film about Jesus. I have always been partial to NOT stealing his thunder, so I had to let it go. I guess I will just sing the praises of this incredible show and forget all about fancy titles.
Starting off the show was Canadian trailblazer, Trans-X. Blade did the introduction and out came Pascal Languirand. He was engaging and let the cat out of the bag; the bands would be playing short sets, so only the hits! Just like that, we were “Living on Video.”
True to Languirand’s word, Blade was back after the set, said a few words, and played a couple of songs. Before you knew it, Jerry Miller and The Untouchables took the stage.
With Honda Center doing its thing, the sound was remarkable – or maybe it was because The Untouchables and their horn section blew the roof off the house. Front-men Miller and Chuck Askerneese were on fire and delivered on “I Spy for the F.B.I.,” and “Free Yourself.”
Once again Blade kept the stage turning over quickly and Musical Youth did their thing, killing it with “Pass the Dutchie,” then Stacey Q entertained, and – you got it – she heard the crowd lose their minds over “Two of Hearts.”
With Blade’s continued ‘80s soundtrack, Shannon danced her ass off and “Let the Music Play.” Animotion became our “Obsession” once again.
Then, there was “Promises, Promises” and “Always Something There to Remind Me” about Naked Eyes.
What I got a kick out of was Wally Palmar and his all-star band. The Romantics crooner has always been elusive to me for some reason.
I have lived through his music for decades, but I have never had the opportunity to see him perform.
Hearing “Talking in Your Sleep” and “What I Like About You” took me back to 1982 when I was in high school, living the wonder that was new wave music!
Before you knew it, the show was almost half way in, yet the night was just flying by as Dale Bozzio and Missing Persons took the stage. Sounding as great as ever, Missing Persons features Bozzio behind the mic, bassist Prescott Niles, and guitarist Karl D’Amico.
The crowd took it up a notch to “Words” and “Walking in L.A.”
Blade pressed the button to sent us back in time with Dave Wakeling and General Public. Now sure how Wakeling is able to pull this off, but he has not lost a beat (no pun intended).
Opening with their cover of the Al Bell classic, “I’ll Take You There,” then “Never You Done That” and “Tenderness.”
It really is too bad these were abbreviated sets because we could have sat there for another hour listening to Wakeling hits.
Being the showmen he is, Wakeling saved it for another day and closed with his English Beat classic, “Save it For Later.”
It truly was a blast from the past that had everyone singing and dancing along to each and every word.
By this time, the crowd was fully engaged as the bands were getting a little longer. Blade was eager to introduce juggernauts of the era, and Wang Chung was ready. With energy and conviction, the band hit the crowd with “Let’s Go,” then “Dance Hall Days.” This song set off a “dance off” on the floor between two sections, which was viewed by those of us in the higher-tiered seating – it was a show within a show!
For the coolest cover of the night, the intro said it all – it was The Clash’s “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go.” Of course everyone knew the words to this one! Wang Chung’s Nick Feldman and Jack Hues closed out their set with their mega hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.”
The night was in high gear as Blade was animated and excited to bring out the headliner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Belinda Carlisle. A true fan favorite, Carlisle was greeted by a standing ovation! She hit the stage barefoot and energized and did a nice blend of original solo material, plus songs from her infamous time as lead for The Go-Go’s.
Opening with “Mad About You” and “Head Over Heels,” Carlisle was appreciate of the crowd and told them so as she launched into the hit parade with “I Get Weak,” “Leave a Light On,” “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and closed with an enormous roar to “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”
OK, so maybe there wasn’t a parting of the Red Sea involved here, but still, it was a pretty kick-ass show from beginning to end – and the middle was pretty cool too.